Is Current Education Policy Destroying Teacher Morale?

Valerie Strauss’s article today in The Washington Post comes as a criticism to the Center for American Progress’s recent report that teachers aren’t actually all that dissatisfied with (or demoralized by) their jobs.

In her article, Strauss discusses the importance of teacher autonomy and morale as key elements in job satisfaction, citing decades of research by sociologist Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania. Strauss notes:

 “Ingersoll has produced a powerful portfolio of studies on teacher autonomy and satisfaction and their relationship to teacher attrition from the classroom. Over the years, Ingersoll has shown that:

  • Teaching has far higher annual turnover than many higher-status occupations—e.g., lawyers, engineers, architects, professors, and pharmacists
  • High-poverty, high-minority, and urban public schools have the highest rates of teachers both moving between schools and leaving teaching—and the majority of those who leave report they do so because of dissatisfaction with their jobs; and
  • Schools that allow teachers greater professional autonomy in their classrooms, and that provide better opportunities for teachers to learn and grow as professionals experience significantly less teacher turnover—especially in math and science.

Teacher autonomy is an important issue—and so is morale”

So what do we think? Are teachers feeling demoralized or empowered right now? How are you (if you’re a teacher) or your teacher friends feeling about Race to the Top, the “Accountability Movement,” and/or Common Core?


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